On December 9th, 2009, the Anchorage Press published a response by the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) to a December 2nd Press story entitled "FAIR play? A controversial D.C.-based anti-immigration group organizes in Alaska". The December 2nd story explored the relationship between FAIR and an Alaskan allied organization called Alaskans for Legal Presence, headed up by former Anchorage Assemblyman Paul Bauer, who unsuccessfully sponsored an ordinance in 2007 designed to curb illegal immigration in Anchorage. The story also discussed HB3, a measure crafted by Rep. Bob Lynn (R-Anchorage Hillside) designed to curb illegal immigration by requiring first-time driver's license applicants to produce proof of legal residency in the United States.
In their response, entitled "A response from FAIR", authored by Dan Stein, FAIR characterized the Press article as "a vicious ad hominem barrage against FAIR", further saying that "no fact checking was done and the paper relied entirely on unsubstantiated allegations by non-credible sources that function as attack machines intent on driving the open border and amnesty agenda".
The primary non-credible source referred to by FAIR is the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), which has designated FAIR a "hate" group. FAIR states that concocting “hate” labels with no published criteria or definition - none exist - is standard practice for the SPLC in order to stir the pot and increase their fundraising. FAIR took the Press to task for thoughtlessly regurgitating SPLC propaganda:
The SPLC thrives on reporters who neglect to distinguish between advocacy reporting and news. Readers don’t need journalists simply reporting what people say; they depend on journalists to find the truth. Anything less is a journalistic mistrial for the accused. Unfortunately, the Anchorage Press unquestioningly accepted the allegations and made no effort to corroborate them. FAIR senior officials were not consulted for comment prior to the publication of this article. Facts were not verified and original sources were not checked.
Here's the part of the December 2nd article which undoubtedly triggered FAIR's heartburn:
FAIR’s presence in Alaska alarmed pro-immigration activists, like Robin Bronen and Mara Kimmel of the Alaska Immigration Justice Project. FAIR, which claims a quarter-million supporters, has been labeled a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
According to a 21-page white paper by the SPLC’s Dr. Heidi Beirich titled “The Nativist Lobby,” “FAIR has long been marked by anti-Latino and anti-Catholic attitudes. It has mixed this bigotry with a fondness for eugenics, the idea of breeding better humans discredited by its Nazi associations. It has accepted $1.2 million from an infamous, racist eugenics foundation. It has employed officials in key positions who are also members of white supremacist groups. Recently, it has promoted racist conspiracy theories about Mexico’s secret designs on the American Southwest and an alternative theory alleging secret plans to merge the United States, Mexico and Canada.”
FAIR has a brochure responding to the SPLC’s hate group designation. “In countless articles and ‘investigative reports,’ the SPLC concluded that just about everyone actively opposed to amnesty and mass immigration was a ‘nativist’ a ‘white supremacist,’ or had ties to such groups and individuals,” it reads.
But it’s not just the SPLC that considers FAIR dangerous. The Anti-Defamation League — not mentioned by FAIR’s anti-SPLC brochure — has done extensive reporting on FAIR’s connections to the Pioneer Fund (the above-mentioned pro-eugenics organization that gave FAIR money), its founder John Tanton’s connections to white supremacists, and well-known extremists employed by FAIR.
The Anchorage Press buries a brief disclaimer from FAIR within a blizzard of defamation and smear unleashed by both the SPLC and the ADL. Had they checked with FAIR in advance, they would have found out that FAIR has never had anything to do with "eugenics" or "white supremacists". Furthermore, Dan Stein himself is Jewish; why would he have an interest in "eugenics" or "white supremacy"? This is indicative of the smear tactics used by both the SPLC and the ADL, and Brendan Joel Kelley uncharacteristically swallowed it hook, line, and sinker.
In addition, the title of the December 2nd article was itself slanted by using the term "anti-immigrant" instead of "anti-illegal". The name of Bauer's organization - Alaskans for Legal Presence - shows that most immigration reform activists do NOT object to legal immigration in manageable doses. But illegal immigration is unacceptable - it represents breaking into our country at a time when Americans have been losing jobs and need the jobs the illegals have been doing.
The Anchorage Press can certainly continue to cater to a progressive constituency, and editorialize as they wish. But if they want to have mainstream credibility and make inroads on the Grey Lady up on 1001 Northway Drive, they need to keep the feature articles unbiased.